Duty of Care: Responsibilities in the World of Mobility

Published: 17 November 2020
Kathy Burrows

In business, “duty of care” is defined as the responsibility or legal obligation of a person or organisation to avoid reasonably foreseen acts or omissions that would likely to cause harm to others. When it comes to relocation, there are a number of issues to consider regarding the safety and security of employees, but who is responsible for duty of care and what actions can companies take to minimise risk?

In the world of mobility, the onus is typically on companies to ensure that relocating employees are safe and secure in their new locations, and since every one of those locations has different geo-political and social climates, knowing the current nuances of each can be a challenging undertaking. Whether an employee moves to the other side of the country or the other side of the world, companies should maintain an awareness of where their employees are at all times. Additionally, they should consider obtaining regularly scheduled security briefings via their internal security department or an outsourced company, and consider providing their employees with:

  • Secure travel to the new location
  • Comprehensive immigration support
  • Proper insurance for travel and medical needs
  • Education regarding risks in the host location
  • Options for secure, safe and appropriate housing
  • Evacuation support, if needed, in cases of medical issues, a natural disaster or in cases of local unrest

business women discussing in an officeHow Relocation Management Companies Help with Duty of Care

There are several ways relocation management companies (RMCs) can help organisations to manage duty of care responsibilities, from identifying eligible neighbourhoods and securing safe residences to coordinating with internal security departments on occupancy approvals. Additionally, RMCs are strongly positioned to provide destination orientation and support, including educating employees regarding:

  • Locations and directions to local hospitals and urgent care centres near their new residences
  • Local emergency practices (norms and actions to take during tornado or typhoon alerts, the location of shelters, evacuation procedures, etc.)
  • Local police practices and expectations
  • Public transport protocols (including appropriate actions during breakdowns or emergencies)
  • Brown-outs and utilities challenges (helping employees understand what local events affect utility services – and how – and any common expectations of how to handle power cuts)
  • Additional support or maintenance that may be needed in flats or apartments, such as generators or air cleaners
  • Safety protocols upon arrival, including airport navigation, transport from the airport to the temporary or permanent home, etc.

RMCs also maintain accurate employee housing locations, providing reports to duty of care/security teams on a regularly scheduled basis. This can be crucial to executing fast response times during natural disasters or any area unrest that might occur unexpectedly following an employee’s relocation.

Finally, RMCs can provide cultural training to employees before, during and after a relocation to ensure that employees and their families are better prepared to assimilate into a new culture. Doing so helps individuals to understand cultural nuances, be aware of their own behaviours and biases – and those of others – and to avoid situations and behaviours that might put them in danger.

As companies continue to face significant global events, duty of care has become an equally significant responsibility. While the ultimate responsibility for managing/ensuring the safety of employees while on assignment is on the employer, working with an RMC can provide company stakeholders with an extension to their duty of care/security teams – providing them with existing, up-to-date knowledge regarding a location’s culture, geopolitical climate and any potential risks that should be considered in a given area. For more information on how SIRVA can help your company be better prepared to address duty of care, please contact us, at



Lisa Marie DeSanto | Manager, Content Marketing


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